The detractors said, "No runner will ever run a sub-four-minute mile." Roger Bannister set a goal to beat the 4-minute barrier and he did just that. Once Bannister broke the 4-minute barrier, the times continued to improve. Today the record stands at 3:43:1 set by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco on July 7, 1999.
To get the most out of your training program, you need to set goals. Set an ultimate goal and then set several smaller goals to get you there. Your ultimate goal might be to run a particular race, but before you run that race you must first train consistently. It can help to set some smaller, shorter-distance races as targets to test your fitness along the way.
Your goals can be qualitative or they can be quantitative: a qualitative long-term goal might be to make fitness part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth or combing your hair; a quantitative long-term goal might be to run a specific marathon when your birthday takes you into a new decade.
If your goals are intelligent and realistic, you will be more likely to succeed and not get discouraged partway through your training. There is no special formula for where you should start or the rate at which you should progress, but take care not to carry training beyond improvement into overuse. Look at where you are now and start a program of improvement from that point. Set a current benchmark and try to improve by approximately 10% a week.
Be sure to monitor and evaluate your training, adjusting your program and goals to your progress and the other facets of your life. Use a logbook or our Running Room website log to document any changes in your circumstances and the corresponding adjustments to your short-term and long-term goals. Now, this is not a free-ride ticket that lets you off your training for every little interference, but you should back off if conditions warrant. For example, if the weather becomes extremely cold, you must intelligently modify the program, or if a busy work schedule leaves you tired, and you have bad runs on two consecutive days, you need to progress more slowly.
Sometimes your daily goal will be to have a rest day. Rest allows your body to rebuild and get stronger. You need 48 hours to recover from a hard workout, so it should be a scheduled part of every training program.
The setting of athletic goals, the discipline of following a regimented program towards specific goals and the recording of your progress will transfer over into the other parts of your life. Studies continue to prove that people who are physically active are more positive in their approach to challenges, have more energy and eat better. These added benefits and feelings of improved health are some of the reasons runners become highly self-motivated over a period of time.
Dr Richard Beauchamp reminds us on the importance of reviewing our health and our fitness with our family doctor. Often runners can confuse great fitness with good health. Be sure you are doing the right things for both your fitness and your health. See your family physician for your annual medical, review your family history and risk factors, get your blood work done, know your cholesterol levels, blood pressure and medical base lines with an action plan for your fitness and wellness.